This lists our top 10 dishes, desserts, and drinks at the 2023 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World, which continues until November 18, 2023. Here we cover the best snacks at the Global Marketplaces throughout World Showcase and Celebration, including marvelous meats and delicious desserts.
This ‘best of the fest’ list is aimed at making planning and grazing around the World Showcase easier, as there are dozens upon dozens of dishes at the Global Marketplaces of varying quality: some good, some bad, and some ugly. This much is clear if you’ve read our Booth Menus, Food Photos & Reviews for the 2023 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival.
For those who don’t want to comb through those individual reviews, we wanted to drop in with some must-try snacks for those of you visiting in the near future who want a concise resource of what to eat at this year’s EPCOT Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World. As always, there are surprising (sometimes) new additions as well as returning fan-favorites on this list…
Let’s start with a few prefatory notes before in, starting with the colossal caveat that four Global Marketplaces still haven’t opened. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. The only brand new booths–Char & Chop, Wine & Wedge, Bubbles & Brine, and Swirled Showcase–are scheduled to debut on September 22, 2023.
Not only are they the only new booths, but these four look like they have the strongest and most exciting menus of all the Global Marketplaces at the 2023 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival. Honestly, even without having a chance to taste-test any of those dishes, I’d be willing to bet that at least half this list would’ve been replaced by dishes (or entire booths) had Char & Chop, Wine & Wedge, Bubbles & Brine, and Swirled Showcase opened at the same time as everything else.
On that note, it’s also important to point out that tastes may vary. Part of the reason we’re excited for the new booths is that they look much more ambitious and adventurous than the current lineup. Frankly, it pains me to include so much comfort cuisine and crowd-pleasing dishes on this list. A ‘foodie festival’ should push the envelope more, but the reality is that the best dishes (for now) at the 2023 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival are largely the most approachable ones.
Additionally, as we’ve seen since we’ve been covering Food & Wine Festival over the years, quality control is not always the best…or even so-so. Dishes differ from day to day and even hour to hour. Items are produced quickly and in large quantities, and are not made to order. As such, quality can be inconsistent, and one person’s “perfectly cooked” steak could be over-cooked for a guest who orders the same thing minutes later.
Likewise, portion sizes can vary pretty significantly. There have been times when
we’ve sat at our table stood at our trash can, and noticed that other guests near us who ordered the same thing have significantly smaller or larger portions. Both of these variables can impact your perception of a particular dish. Freshly-prepared Le Cellier filet mignon that’s twice the size of an overly fatty portion that’s been sitting under a heat lamp for 30 minutes is going to review better. (This is not an arbitrary example–we’ve found that meats are most commonly inconsistent, with the iconic Canadian steak being the biggest offender.)
Anyway, take a look at the best-of the 2023 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival list…
Everything (Flavors of America) – Previously Hops & Barley, the ‘reimagining’ into Flavors of America with an almost all-new menu breathed new life into this burnt out booth. The Chilaquiles and Italian Beef Sandwich, in particular, are among the best dishes of the entire festival. Both deliver a surprising amount of complexity to otherwise ordinary dishes, and the value for money on both (especially the Chilaquiles) is incredibly strong.
Then there’s the Cioppino. As explained in our booth review, the sum of the parts is more than the whole here, and we’d order this again as a result. It’s a tremendous portion of spectacular seafood for the price. In our view, the weakest dish here is the sugar-forward Freshly-Baked Carrot Cake. But even that is far from bad, and you should almost certainly give it a try to form an opinion for yourself, as this carrot cake is almost universally beloved–we’re in the minority on it. So with that in mind, order everything!
Everything (Flavors from Fire) – The bad news is that the Flavors from Fire booth is a shadow of its former self and has been for the last three years. The good news is that this Global Marketplace at the 2023 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival is the best incarnation of the booth since 2019. As a result, we’re once again recommending that you order “the works” at Flavors from Fire.
If you want to opt for only one item, that absolutely needs to be the Smoked Corned Beef with House-made Potato Chips, Cheese Curds, Pickled Onions and Beer-Cheese Fondue (top). This has been one of the top 5 dishes for as long as it’s been on the menu, and that’s true again this year. It’s smoked corned beef on a bed of house-made potato chips, with a fondue drizzle to top it off. The fondue is complex, and the corned beef is lean and tender, with an excellent smokiness. It’s a perfect marriage of flavors; an ambitious comfort food that’s perfect for fall.
With that said, the other items also shine to varying degrees. Everything in the Chimichurri Marinated Skirt Steak Taco is fantastic, but the tortilla itself is rubbery and the price is high. The Impossible Burger Slider is a plant-based standout, but I’ll admit to being disappointed that Flavors from Fire isn’t a carnivore’s paradise. (Also, no Earth Eats is a big loss!) Then there’s the Spiced Chocolate Tart, which is an excellent dessert that’s far better than the formulaic tarts often found at EPCOT festivals. This dessert is highly recommended; the clear second-best dish at Flavors from Fire.
Everything (India) – This is the more interesting type of booth we like to see at the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival, with dishes you won’t find elsewhere in EPCOT but that are still relatively approachable. (You can literally find all of these dishes in the frozen foods aisle at Trader Joe’s, so they’re not too “out there.”)
The Chicken Tikka Masala is definitely the most ambitious dish here, with a rich and well-seasoned base. The meat is flavorful and tender, with a melt-in-your-mouth quality. There’s a bit of a kick to the dish, which is nicely offset by the yogurt. If you’re looking for a fun option that kids or picky eaters might enjoy, the Curry-Spiced Crispy Cheese is essentially mozzarella sticks or fried cheese curds, international edition.
Roasted Lamb Chop (Australia) — This Global Marketplace has been offering up lamb dishes since as long as I can remember, and the Roasted Lamb Chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies is a personal favorite. I really like the refreshing mint pesto contrasted with the rich lamb; the potato chips aren’t necessary, but a little texture never hurts.
Ours had a generous amount of meat and wasn’t too fatty (YMMV on both counts), and the accompaniments are sophisticated and thoughtful items that pair well with the lamb.
Oysters Rockefeller (Coastal Eats) – It will never cease to amaze me that Walt Disney World will phone in the absolute most basic of dishes–french fries, doughnuts or chicken wings–but absolutely crush it with complex seafood. And this happens with regularity, year in and year out.
These three large oysters are perfectly-prepared, hearty in size, and not the least bit rubbery or tasting as if they’ve slow-cooked under a heat lamp. To the contrary, they are something I’d happily enjoy as an appetizer at a table service restaurant. Garlic and spinach further elevate the flavor profile and breadcrumbs add texture–none of this gets in the way of the oyster flavor, which is still allowed to shine.
Honestly, our biggest disappointment with Coastal Eats is that the menu isn’t larger, with separate scallops and salmon options. Those are two other dishes that the EPCOT culinary team has historically done incredibly well. Let them showcase their talents!
Kalua Pork Slider (Hawaii) – It’s frankly a travesty that Hawaii isn’t listed as an “everything” booth. For reasons that I’ll never understand, they swapped out the fan-favorite SPAM Hash for SPAM Sushi. Not only is the replacement not as good as its predecessor, it’s not good period. Thankfully, the Passion Fruit Cheesecake still delivers (and earns our recommendation), as does the Kalua Pork Slider.
It’s the latter item that ends up scoring the spot here. If you’ve been to EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival in the past decade–or even read coverage of the event–you’ve tried or heard of this. It’s a fan favorite, and for good reason. Despite the relatively small roll, this sandwich comes with a heaping helping of moist pork, topped with pineapple chutney and a liberal coating of spicy mayonnaise. The mild zest of the sauce mixes perfectly with the pineapple, and the meat is always perfectly flavored. This is a can’t miss!
Kenyan Coffee Barbecue Beef Tenderloin (Kenya) – The coffee rub here gives this both an interesting texture and flavor–making it almost reminiscent of lamb–and the meat is tender and tasty. The slaw garnish offers further texture, while the corn mealie pap provides an interesting sweetness.
The Kenyan Coffee BBQ Beef Tenderloin is an incredibly nuanced and varied dish that really comes together well. It’s also a bit more inventive and interesting, which is nice to see since so many of the best dishes at the 2023 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival are otherwise fairly pedestrian. (This is still comfort food at its core, but it’s a bit more exotic comfort food, which counts for something.)
Griddled Cheese (Greece) – The iconic Griddled Greek Cheese is back once again for 2023! This uses kasseri cheese, which is a traditional semi-hard Greek cheese made from sheep and goat milk. Griddling the cheese softens it up, giving it an exterior skin.
The hardened honey adds a sweetness and the ground pistachios offer further crunch. The ingredients coalesce remarkably well, and the end result is a creamy, nutty, sweet, and earthy cheese dish that is a truly sublime. This is easily one of our all-time favorite dishes of the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival.
Feijoada (Brazil) – This dish features crispy pork belly, black beans, Brazil nut pesto, and long grain white rice. This is a good one-two punch for us; the base offers well-rounded flavor with plenty of seasoning and nuance.
And of course, what’s not to love about pork belly?! This meat is melt-in-your-mouth delicious, with the right amount of fattiness and perfect preparation. Together, it’s a well-balanced dish that’s at once ambitious and comforting. If Walt Disney World is going to make Food & Wine menus more crowd-pleasing, this is exactly how to do it!
Pickle Milkshake (Brew-Wing) – NEW GIMMICK ALERT!!! It’s been a while since Walt Disney World pulled a page from its gimmick playbook to introduce an item that–good, bad or ugly–would capture attention for being strange. Something the youth would film themselves trying for the sake of exaggerated reaction shots to post on Instagram, TikTok, or MySpace. A drink everyone that would inspire countless controversies and hot takes.
Here’s what is, I guess, a contrarian opinion on the infamous Pickle Milkshake: it’s pretty plain. It’s basically just a vanilla milkshake with dill seasoning plus green food coloring. The end result is something that has an interesting interplay of sweet and creamy, and semi-sour, savory, tart and tangy. More than anything else, the Pickle Milkshake is tasty, cooling and refreshing–and given the triple-digit temperatures now, those last two qualities are paramount!
The ice cream in the shake tastes shockingly high quality, the portion is sizable, and the price is relatively reasonable. It also comes in a plastic mason jar, which I suppose you could take home as a keepsake? I’m not really sure. Regardless, this is not the most inventive, ambitious, or even weird dish at the 2023 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival, but it is the most economical ice cream delivery vehicle at EPCOT right now. And who knows, maybe the Pickle Milkshake will inspire a birthday milkshake for Uncle O’Grimacey at McDonald’s!
Check out our 2023 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival Booth Menus post if you want to see and read more about every menu item we recommend–and DON’T recommend–this year! You’ll also want to read our full Guide to the 2023 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival before you go to get an idea of what to do, strategy for the festival, and much more.
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Do you have any favorite snacks from the 2023 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival? If you’ve tried any of the dishes on this list, what’d you think of them? Did we snub any of your top dishes, desserts, or drinks at this year’s event? Agree or disagree with our choices? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!